Monday, October 28, 2013

Taste of Yaletown 2013 - Society Dining Lounge

Society Dining Lounge on UrbanspoonSociety Dining Lounge is a pretty busy place that sometimes sees rather large groups. We were there at the tail end of the Taste of Yaletown promotion on a late Friday, and it was one of the few restaurants in the 1200-block of Hamilton that was seeing any action. Good for them, I suppose, since that far off, they are outside the busy restaurant hub of Yaletown.

They enforce an 18% gratuity for a table of 8 persons. This seemed to scare off some of our dining group because interest fell from eight persons to six, and then two no-showed so we were only four in the end. Sigh. They were fortunately understanding and did not make us feel bad about it.

There's the dark interior and the heated-patio exterior. The overhead lamps seem to pulse, so you get periods of warmth and then it cools down, especially in the current Fall weather and if you're out at 8pm for dinner. Blankets are available for extra warmth.

After perusing the menu, only one person ordered the Taste of Yaletown promotion. The rest of us picked items to share from the regular menu.

Taste of Yaletown 2013 "FALL IN LOVE" MENU | $25

Basil Pesto Mini Bruschetta 9
Ham Hock & Split Pea Soup 9
sesame bread sticks
Lobster Pappardelle 14
lobster tail saffron rosé, chanterelle mushrooms
Chicken Potpie Wellington 15
carrot purée & ricotta mushroom caps
Triple Decker S’mores 7
peach purée

Basil Pesto Mini Bruschetta
  • Meh. Nothing to write home about. Tiny portion. Hopefully regular $9 order won't be as small as what came to our table -- it could have fit in a saucer.
  • Taste was, sadly, also meh.
Lobster Pappardelle
  • Tasted okay, but... there's supposed to be lobster in here?
Triple Decker S'mores
  • Tiny dessert. Basically three thin biscuits sandwiched with mini-marshmellows and drizzled with chocolate. Not on the regular menu.
For $25, I would have to say the Taste of Yaletown menu wasn't that good, sadly. Portion seemed under-sized. But at only $25, it's hard to complain, especially considering the location.

Signature Appetizer Platter ($17.95 per person, minimum 2 persons) signature meatballs, poutine, ‘mac and cheese’ balls, chicken wings, lobster corn dog, cheeseburger pizza pocket
  • The Signature Appetizer Platter puts together one bite of just about all their appys for each person. Doesn't sound like much, but it does come with a pot of poutine, so at about $36 for two persons, it works out to a light to medium meal for each person.
  • Signature Meatballs
    • Pretty decent, though nothing special. A good size at slightly bigger than a ping pong ball. Mostly meaty and a safe choice. It's spiced, but not enough to make it a daring recipe.
  • Poutine (hand cut french fries, cheese curd, chicken gravy)
    • Nothing special, but nothing wrong about this comfort food either. Your basic poutine with fries, a generous amount of gravy, and melted curds.
  • Mac and Cheese Balls
    • Apparently the Glowbal Group has these floating around in their restaurants in various incarnations. My friend had gone to The Roof at Black + Blue where it was served as a flatter cake. Here it's a ball slightly bigger than a ping pong ball, smaller than a tennis ball.
    • Supposedly the same as the 'Mac and Cheese' Sticks (with jalapeño, white cheddar) on the Munchies menu, but not cheesy tasting and no jalapeño bite.
    • Maybe it's done differently here than at Black + Blue but the taste was bland, which may have been in part because it was slightly cool on the inside. Basically the same problem as REEL Mac and Cheese: It's hard to tell how done/heated through it is on the inside.
    • Give this a pass at Society and go to Black + Blue, which advertises it at $9 (almost $1 less than Society), plus the menu indicates it is accompanied by "truffled cheese sauce".
  • Chicken Wings
    • These are the Society Chicken Wings with coca-cola sauce.
    • Sadly tiny wings, BUT about par with other wings places, such as Wings Tap and Grill.
    • The coca-cola sauce wasn't that special, alas. You can whiff the coca-cola, but it was predominantly just a sweet sauce, so it's not too far off if they had simply used a thick, sweet, soy sauce.
  • Lobster Corn Dog
    • About the size of a meatball. Decent lobster aroma and flavour despite the filling that looks more like a fish cake. But hey -- it's got lobster in the name and lobster in flavour, so it's to complain here. Just don't expect it to be like a crab cake on a stick.
  • Cheeseburger Pizza Pocket
    • A rather small and flat potsticker. You can barely taste the filling.
Overall, the menu sounds better than it actually tastes. Society weighs in for me as a mediocre dining destination. My take is that Society is really more of a bar and drinks and mingling place. Only if you were done with that and had the munchies would you go to the patio for late-night eats -- plus you maybe don't care to walk too far to get it.

No problems with service leading up to and during our dinner at Society. Maybe they've tightened up since the complaints posted online, but I had prompt and professional e-mail correspondence while arranging the reservations, and our lovely server Anastasia was friendly yet unobtrusive. Bussing was prompt and water kept topped up despite it being a very busy evening. This is something that can fall by the wayside, and it suggests that management isn't stingy or short-sighted about staffing. Even the managers floated around to help now and again.

After looking at the Triple Decker S'mores, we voted no-confidence to desserts at Society and headed up the block for $8 Gingerbread Pudding at the Hamilton Street Grill. They didn't goof that up and it came on the hot side of toasty warm as it should be. About a hamburger sized portion, plus two scoops of ice cream. Not overly saturated with sweet sauce. Totally delicious and a steal at just $8. Still a winning must-try dessert.

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